I was at my wit’s end after 36 hours of “quality” time with an adolescent niece, desperately needing something to calm my nerves. People close to me pointed out that I was over –reacting as this was only “normal” behaviour among difficult children these days. So I thought I will document a few findings for others who may be walking unprepared into such an experience:
• “Sorry” is the most offensive word in the English language and must never be used with an adult under any circumstances.
• Adolescent speak is a totally alien language which adults will never master. It comprises of a set of words mostly monosyllabic . Words such as "please" are unnecessary and preferably avoided. Responses are usually simple and to the point never mind that they sound completely rude to untrained adult ears.
• Time is very precious – theirs. So you better make your sentences short. If you still decide to speak for more than one minute, they exercise the option to switch off their attention.
• Never,yes this is serious: NEVER get into the advise mode. But if you must , then be prepared to receive a pseudo-sympathetic look that says" Oh yes, I understand;it is that damned PMS again!"
• Adolescent-think is a process for which no manual has ever been written. It is a coin with just one side – their side. It is supposed to be completely logical, rational and totally correct at all times – perfectly clear from their side and completely invisible from your side.
• Exposure to them for extended periods can be traumatic in the least and dangerous if your nerves are fragile! ( pretty obvious, isn’t it?)
There is something poetic about small things that happen spontaneusly and many times for no reason at all.
Yesterday amboj and I were having a small chat at the junction where we had to turn into our roads after our evening walk. Two kids of the construction workers, aged 2 and 4 were on their way somewhere. The little one had just a shirt on, he was almost covered in construction dirt , no slippers and in his hand he had a long piece of woven green cocnut leaves that looked like a narrow mat – one of those little things for the amusement of kids that these earthy people are so resourceful to make.
Amboj and I stood about two feet apart from each other – a space that adults learn to respect as belonging temporarily to the individuals that created it.But for these kids from their height of one and half and two and half feet, it was just space enough for them to pass through. Those pair of legs and the space in between were all discrete without any connection.We were amused to see them between us and suddenly the little one stepped on amboj’s foot. He was either attracted by the yellow lines on her new black sandals or he thought it was an insect to be crushed or he was attracted to the lovely whiteness of her feet or there was no reason at all. And then he walked on as if nothing had happened – no consciousness at all of having done anything strange.A spontaneous translation of his feeling into immediate action untarnished by social , historic or economic thought conditioning.
It took a full 15 seconds for us to grasp what happened and then we both burst into laughter.
That second had the spontaneity of a little child that suddenly plants a kiss on a mother’s cheek or an unexpected wave that washes your feet and quickly runs away.
Piece by siddhartha in today:
(why is it in my blog? because I adore cricket? Not really! Because I am fond of Kumble? Not at all!! It is here because siddhartha is my son!!!)
The clinical colossus

It is no surprise that Anil Kumble excelled in Machine Drawing. Every mechanical engineer will tell you that it is a subject that requires immaculate attention to detail – accurate measurements are crucial – and enormous amounts of patience, as most exercises require you to repeat similar procedures several times. It has varying effects on students – some develop an interest by virtue of their diligence while others create a mental block that seriously hampers their thought process. The ones who excel are those who view it as a simple method of illustrating a three-dimensional machine in different perspectives.

Kumble mastered it. More importantly, he swapped the drafter, an instrument critical in Machine Drawing, for the cricket ball and performed a similar function, all the way till wicket No. 434. He operated in millimeters and experimented in very narrow tolerance limits. Ironically, the reason he was different was because he didn't try different things.

For the generation who took to cricket in the early 1990s, Kumble was the most likely bowling hero. Kapil Dev was gone and Javagal Srinath hadn't arrived. We hardly saw an Indian fast bowler running in at full tilt and intimidating batsmen. But Kumble came close. He destroyed rather then beguiled. He cussed when he was taken for runs, and glared at batsmen who went after him. He pushed them back with a series of balls that were short of a good length before unleashing the yorker that uprooted their stumps. In many ways he was our Curtly Ambrose.

Thanks to Kumble, we hardly ever saw India lose a Test at home, let alone a series. If the strong Indian batting line-up was one axis of the Ajit Wadekar-Mohammad Azharuddin days, Kumble was the other. England were devoured, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe dismissed. Australia and South Africa, who battled for supremacy through the '90s, were made to flounder. And when Pakistan had a chance of a series win, Kumble gobbled them all up in one spell. India's invincibility at home wasn't because of the pitches they played on. It was because of a man who knew precisely how to bowl on them.

In many ways, he has been India's most valuable player for the last 15 years, yet never filled stadiums like Virender Sehwag, nor fired the teenage imagination like Irfan Pathan. With an extreme sense of professionalism he carried out a job of winning matches for India – the count of which we have long forgotten.

But if one moment stands out, it's that afternoon in Antigua two years back. With a broken jaw and his face all plastered he got Brian Lara out and gave India a sniff of victory. It wasn't a statement he was making. It was a job and he was doing it despite the acute pain. Wally Grout, the great Australian wicketkeeper, once remarked, "Whenever I saw Ken Barrington coming to the wicket I thought a Union Jack was trailing behind him." Both on the field and off it, Kumble evokes similar emotions.

Amid all this he remained unassuming and, just like he had done with his clutch-pencil at RV College of Engineering, let his work speak for itself. You may miss his name if you take a peek into the college yearbooks of the late '80s. If you take a closer look at the section celebrating sporting achievements, you will come across the name K Anil almost everywhere. It is symbolic of his career - inconspicuous, almost hidden off the field, while being a colossal presence on it.

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is on the staff of Cricinfo.(